Guest Post by Bonnie Grove
It started on a Saturday, or maybe it was Thursday. I recall it was out of a desire to lose weight. Actually, I wanted to save the world by buying only Fair Trade products. What I meant to do was buy local—support my local economy. Oh, organic. Yes. That’s how it all started.
Like all big changes in my life, the decision to move toward eating differently (mindful eating?) was a culmination, a meeting place of ideas that had stewed in my mind for years.
It wasn’t just one reason, or just one thing.
But the change had a beginning. It started three years ago at the Book Fair at my children’s school. The one they hold at the same time they conduct Parent/Teacher Conferences.
Somehow, I had come away with a book about the dangers of processed food. A sort of Food Inc. for the younger set. I’ve since lost the book (typical!), but not before I read it.
I sat the children down and explained to them why we were no longer going to eat at fast food restaurants. They were sad, but when I talked to them not about fat and salt, but chemicals, petroleum products, and carcinogenic agents added to the food at these restaurants, they understood.
It was cold turkey. We’ve never eaten at a fast food joint since. This spring, after three years of being fast food free, our son spontaneously offered this observation: “Since we stopped eating out, we’ve all been healthier. No one has been sick.”
I was surprised. He was right.
But it was more than McDonalds. A few weeks after our decision, I turned my attention to store bought processed foods. This was not fun. It was time consuming, reading all those labels, checking ingredient lists.
Then it hit me.
Stop reading ingredient lists.
Buy only food you can identify as food simply by looking at it. An egg. Lettuce. Chicken. Milk (thank God for Canada’s laws against growth hormones). Apple.
It’s so simple, right?
I kept reading books.
Pesticides. Herbicides. Real food imported from countries with very different rules than we have in Canada.
Moving to organic food was the most time consuming effort. I live in the middle of the Canadian prairies. I live in the city. I don’t have a vegetable garden (yet!). Buying fresh, organic, locally grown is difficult and expensive.
We joined a local organic co-op where I can exchange labour for lower food prices. I spoke to my local grocery store about expanding the organic selection of the produce section (they have, it’s now more than twice the size it was two years ago).
Most of the changes we’ve made as a family have been time consuming, with the exception of no longer eating fast food. But even there it’s meant I spend way more time in the kitchen, and way less time letting someone else do the cooking.
Remember that book I read? The one from the Book Fair at my kid’s school? It also talked about Fair Trade. Coffee. Chocolate. Clothing.
Some Fair Trade changes were easier than others, thanks to my organic co-op. They keep an eye on things I can’t. They provide answers to question about specific imported products, and work hard to ensure that the people responsible for harvesting the food were properly paid for their work.
Here’s what these changes have meant for our family. We are not rich. Far, far from it. I’m at the beginning stages of building a writing career, and my husband is the solo pastor of a small church. Money is one thing we don’t have.
Organic costs more.
Fair Trade costs more.
Locally grown is scarce in winter.
The latent effect of all these changes has been a restoration of simplified living. We have learned—taught ourselves—to reduce, simplify, make do.
This has spilled over into other areas of family life. TV is largely ignored at our house, to the point where we rarely think to turn it on. We’ve cleaned out our storage rooms (twice!), getting rid of things we don’t really need, and putting them into the hands of people who will make use of them.
I’ve made peace with my small kitchen, and cleared away the doodads and gizmos I wasn’t using.
It took time, intentional effort, and work. It still does. But it’s worth it.
Bonnie Grove started writing when her parents bought a spanking new typewriter, and she wanted to use it. It had automatic correction, a feature her teenaged enthusiasm embraced with vigor. She clacked out a very bad romance novel her mother loved, and has been pounding out ever improving prose since then.
She has a background in psychology, counseling, and theology. She worked in program development for families at risk and learned tons about God’s grace.
Bonnie is endlessly fascinated by grace. All her writing, short stories, novels, non-fiction – the whole shebang – are explorations of God’s grace at work in the world.
She’s mom to two young children and happily married to her soul mate Pastor Steve. They are happy Canadians.